Fired Up

The appeal and versatility of pizza ovens in modern backyard lifestyles

For customers, having a pizza oven in their backyard isn’t only about being able to savor the convenience of eating fresh, hot pizza anytime. It’s about the sense of community and elevating a backyard gathering space. 

Jason Joswick, owner of Valley Hot Spring Spas and BBQ Islands in California, has been carrying pizza ovens for several years, and this April, started carrying Alfa Forni pizza ovens.

“So many of our customers were asking about them,” he says. “They have an incredible reputation and are a recognizable product on social media with their amazing colors and unique design.”

The ovens can be wood burning or gas and come in a variety of sizes and price points. Joswick wanted to confirm the “wow” factor before promoting the product in his stores, so he and his wife purchased a pizza oven and tested it in their backyard before deciding to stock them. 

“When customers visualize their outdoor BBQ parties, they aren’t visualizing just hamburgers or hot dogs anymore,” Joswick explains. “They are looking for a more unique and gourmet option to impress their guests.”

When customers visualize their outdoor BBQ parties, they aren’t visualizing just hamburgers or hot dogs anymore. They are looking for a more unique and gourmet option to impress their guests.

Jason Joswick, Valley Hot Spring Spas and BBQ Islands

During the pandemic, backyard improvement products, including pizza ovens, saw sales soar, Joswick says. While sales have balanced out, one thing that has changed with pizza ovens is how they’re purchased.

“The buying pattern of pizza ovens is now included with BBQ islands as something customers will bring up because they think of pizza ovens as part of their outdoor kitchen unit,” Joswick says. “This is new for us.”

Joswick suggests spa and backyard retailers consider carrying pizza ovens, as they offer an upscale, luxury backyard experience and bring a modern flair to cooking outdoors.

pizza oven

Jeff Bassemier, president of Bassemier’s Fireplace Patio & Spas in Indiana, emphasizes that a pizza oven isn’t just a pizza oven.

“They’ve really just started to take off here in the Midwest,” Bassemier says. 

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He considers pizza ovens a solid side category with potential for growth in the Midwest. Many of his pizza oven sales have been part of other installations for outdoor kitchens.

One thing Bassemier suggests companies keep in mind is that if you’re installing and selling big pizza ovens, you need to have the manpower to add them to a build.

“Outdoor cooking is a lifestyle,” he says. “If somebody is buying a pizza oven, outdoor cooking is part of their identity because they’ve chosen to pick up a product that they’ve spent hundreds, if not tens of thousands of dollars on that predominantly does one thing.”

A great way for retailers to supplement grills and make their store the place for pizza ovens is to include the accessories: butcher paper, pizza cutters, sauces, etc.

“If you’re a brick-and-mortar retailer in today’s world, you have to be a destination or your store has to be remarkable,” Bassemier says. “[It needs to be] that when people leave, they can’t help but tell their friends about all the offerings that you have.”

pizza oven

At Dean’s Stove & Spa in Connecticut, pizza ovens aren’t a new product, says operations director Bruno Ferreira. They’ve been selling them since 2015 and added Italian pizza ovens from Clementi Sri and RossoFuoco Sri in 2018. They also offer their pizza ovens as a wholesaler through the Vulcan Group LLC.

“Customers were blown away when they came into our shop, and we were cooking pizzas on them as well as steak and chicken,” Ferreira says. “You can bake in these ovens. Anything you can do in a smoker, you can do in these ovens.”

Dean Michanczyk, owner of Dean’s Stove & Spa, says pizza ovens’ popularity grew like wildfire, and word-of-mouth played a big role in that. 

To show them off, they always have something cooking in the pizza ovens in the store, whether it’s cookies, pies, pineapple or chicken. 

They’ve seen a trend over the last five years where consumers are focusing on home improvement and spending more time outdoors with friends and family. Carrying products like pizza ovens that cater to the outdoor living experience has helped them bolster their spa sales, as well. 

“This stuff is tried and true,” Ferreira says. “If we’ve been able to make it work for us and had success with it, anybody can.”